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Alzheimer's, the Long Goodbye: Our Second Father's Day Without Larry and Celebrating All the Amazing Dads

Father and son holding baby

June is feeling surreal. Today is our second Father’s Day without Larry.

In some ways it’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 months, and in other ways it feels so long ago.

Every year up until Larry died, Father’s Day was all about Larry. Then in late 2021, my son Scott became a father. Father’s Day 2022 was extra exciting now that Scott was a father, and Larry was happy to share in the festivities and beyond proud and happy for Scott. This year, the day will be split in two. Early in the day, my sons Anso, Henry, and Zane will be spending it with Joe, their biological father. Scott will spend the morning at the cemetery where his father is laid to rest, paying his respects, and I’m sure wishing he could be here today to have met his son Silas and celebrated the day as three generations of fathers and sons. The second half of the day will be spent with us at the house, celebrating Scott, and I’m sure reflecting on Larry. 

As I’ve gone through Larry’s things, I have found a myriad of his “Father’s Day gifts,” from macaroni necklaces and baby rubber duckies to homemade cards, all lovingly tucked away. I know for a fact that over the years, he would go through those things and reflect on his special Father’s Day celebrations of the past.

My own father and I have had a complicated relationship throughout my life, going several years being estranged multiple times due to his mental illness, our clashing personal values, and his disconnection with my own children.

In 2021, after more than a decade of being estranged, I spent several months reflecting on the history of our  relationship, his needs and wants as an elderly man, and knowing that he was pretty alone in the world celebrating birthdays, holidays, etc. I ultimately made the decision to reconnect with Dad, because even though it might not always be in my best interest, wanting someone to not be alone for the holidays and special occasions  is a facet of love. 

Larry and my own father were just a couple of years apart. Last year, it was simply too painful to spend time in celebration of Father’s Day with my dad. Later in the summer, I took him out to lunch, gave him a small gift, and honestly, it was still raw. This year, while the boys each have their separate plans for earlier in the day, I’ll be taking my dad to lunch. I’m not going to lie, I am conflicted. 

Until I met Larry, I had never known what a healthy relationship with a father looked like.

The only exception was my brother who has always been a wonderful “girl dad”. Other than that, the fathers in my life, among family and close friends, at best didn't seem to play much of a role, and at worst were neglectful or emotionally abusive, reliably putting their own needs and wants above their childrens. This happened for various reasons, from mental illness like with my own dad, to others who had simply had children to check off the box, and everything in between. In fact, it pains me to say that I had never really put a lot of relevance on fatherhood. 

And then I met Larry. Larry embraced fatherhood to the boys with a passion I had never seen.

In fact, just today, I asked Zane to help me install some batteries in a bubble blower for Silas. Zane went into the battery cupboard, where I kid you not, we probably have $500 worth of batteries, some of them dating back to 19 years ago, when we moved into this house as a family. Before Larry even moved here from Florida, he was shipping batteries and remote control cars to the house for “his boys.” That was the first in many ways in which he set up his life as a father to them. Zane and I realized today that many of those batteries are corroded and needed to be thrown out, but it was a sentimental moment and yet another reminder of the many ways in which Larry took care of “his boys.”  Larry transformed my idea of the role fathers could play in their children's lives. 

While Larry already had three daughters from ages eighteen to early thirties when I met him, I had not seen him in the role that he played in their younger lives. While I know without a doubt that Larry loved his daughters and did the best he could with them, his best may not have always been exactly what they needed. Due to divorce and other extenuating circumstances, Larry was not a day-to-day father for most of their lives. For much of their lives, they didn’t live in the same states, and at times, didn’t even live in the same countries. Because Larry was retired and more self-actualized in a way that can only come through life experience and maturity, I do not doubt that the boys got the very best version of him…sometimes life just happens that way. 

Today, it makes my heart burst with happiness to see what an amazing father Scott is to his beloved Silas, and how Silas is undeniably attached to his daddy.

One recent Friday morning when Scott was dropping Silas off, Silas was sitting at the breakfast table when Scott kissed and hugged him to say goodbye. Silas literally jumped down from the table, wrapped his little body around Scott’s leg, and cried, “No go Daddy, no go.” I stood there stunned. Never in my life had I witnessed a toddler distraught over his dad leaving; in fact, in my experience as the mother of four boys, my boys didn’t even seem to notice that their dad was leaving… it just wasn’t a “thing”. 

I’m not insinuating that the boys never spent time alone with their biological dad, there was the occasional “babysitting” when I was out with friends for the evening, but that was certainly the exception, not the rule. Most of the time if I was away from the kids, whether it was for a few hours  or some travel, their dad may have been there, but so was additional family support or babysitters to do the “heavy lifting.”

In contrast, Scott and Silas spend one-on-one time together every day, whether it’s special activities, typical family chores such as walking the dog, or father-and-son dinners with Chick-Fil-A in the park. I consider myself to be very fortunate with many many things to be thankful for… seeing what a wonderful father Scott is to Silas is high on the list.

I’ve also seen Scott’s friends, some of whom have delayed fatherhood into their late twenties and thirties, who are as hands-on fathers as their partners are mothers, and sometimes even more. I love seeing young dads pushing strollers down the streets, sporting baby Bjorns strapped to their chests, yacking it up on the corner with other dads, and sitting at the local coffee shop as I’m driving to and from the office each day and walking in my own neighborhood.

When I took Silas to gymkhana on Fridays, there were often more fathers than mothers accompanying their children. It would make me smile as a grandmother (Daddy Mommy). We’d exchange ideas and info on potential “must-do activities” for the upcoming weekend, whether it was Touch-A-Truck, climbing walls for toddlers, or the Penguin Parade at the zoo. 

I know in my heart that Anso, Henry, and Zane, should they decide to become fathers, because of the way they were fathered by Larry, and because of who they are as men, will be wonderful fathers themselves. In that way, Larry’s own impact will ripple out for generations.

Today, my perspective on fatherhood couldn’t be any more different than it was nineteen years ago when I met Larry. Today, I recognize the value of fathers, the transformative effect that being a “Dad” can have on children, even if they are not his biological offspring, and see firsthand how the bond can be as strong, or in many other cases stronger, than that of a child with their mother.

Even as I sit here and write this, it feels surreal. If someone had said to me twenty years ago, “This will be your thoughts and feelings on fatherhood,” I would have laughed in their face. That doesn’t mean there weren’t always wonderful fathers out there. As an adult, I’ve gotten to know many people who report having amazing relationships with their dad, and that’s a beautiful thing. For example, my dear friend Mary Jo, who also happens to be our editor, had an unmistakably beautiful relationship with her Dad, Frankie B. Without a doubt, I’m sure Mary Jo always felt his love and support. She certainly always had every reason to respect him and continues to feel his love for her today, nearly ten years after his passing.

I feel one hundred percent confident that fathers like Larry, Scott, and men like them, will have a transformative impact on their children’s lives that will ripple out for generations to come. 

Happy Father’s Day Larry, Scott, Dad, Frankie B., and all the other amazing dads out there.

In Loving Memory of Larry DeMonaco…. The beautiful man you were and the freed spirit you are now.

If you would like to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization devoted to research, treatment, and finding a cure for this devastating disease, please visit


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